Have you had your car’s brakes and tyres checked recently? Figures reveal defects are the most common cause of lethal accidents on British roads
- Defective brakes contributed to a total of 3,894 crashes in the last 6 years
- These are reported road accidents that have resulted in injuries or fatalities
- According to DfT stats, dodgy brakes caused 15 deaths on British roads in 2018
- Illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres is the second most common vehicle defect resulting in crashes
Faulty brakes and dodgy tyres are the two most common vehicle defects that result in road accidents, with the former topping the charts as the biggest crash causer for the sixth year running.
New data revealed by the Department for Transport showed that malfunctioning brake parts have contributed to a total of 3,894 reported accidents that resulted in injuries or fatalities between 2013 and 2018 on Britain’s roads.
According to the figures, defective brakes caused 15 deaths in 2018 – the highest annually over the last six years.
Brake check: Defective braking components were a contributing cause of accidents that claimed 15 lives on Britain’s roads last year, according to government statistics
While overall accidents and casualties as a direct consequence of a vehicle defect are down, there was a two-third rise in deaths caused by faulty brakes in 2018
Analysis of the government’s latest road accident data was conducted by braking component provider Pagid, which said there had been a two-third (67 per cent) rise in deaths caused by faulty brakes in 2018.
In total, there have been 64 fatalities on Britain’s roads due to defective brakes in the last six years, it said.
Conversely, the overall number of road accidents and casualties, where a contributory factor was identified, have decreased by more than a fifth (22 per cent) since 2013, with a nine per cent drop from 2017 to 2018.
The South East and London had the highest proportion of reported accidents caused by vehicle defects, while the North East has the lowest over the last six years – according to the figures.
Phil Woodcock, of Pagid, said drivers need to actively have their brakes checked more often and shouldn’t rely on the MOT test to guarantee their safety all year round.
‘Drivers need to be able to trust their brakes in extreme situations, and although they are checked during the annual MOT, 12 months is a long time, especially if the car has received an advisory notice that they are partially worn,’ he said.
‘It is therefore worth getting them checked in-between MOT and service intervals especially if the driver notices any warning signs such as an audible squealing sound or abnormal vibration when the brake is applied.’
The Department for Transport lists six vehicle defects that can result in potentially lethal crashes, as seen in this table above. Tyres and brakes are consistently the biggest cause
The South East and London had the highest proportion of reported accidents caused by vehicle defects, while the North East has the lowest over the last 6 years
His warning comes following research published last week showing that almost half of car owners incorrectly believe that an MOT test would rubber-stamp the safety of their vehicles for 12 months.
Basic car tyre checks
Tread depth: The legal limit for the minimum depth of the tread on your tyres is 1.6mm, but performance begins to drop off after falling below 3mm.
Tyre condition: Motorists are advised to inspect the tyre for signs of irregular wear or damage such as lumps, bumps or cuts.
Air pressure: Check that the vehicle’s pressure is at the right level for the load, using your car owner’s manual or stickers inside the door or fuel flap.
As well as dodgy brakes, the other five vehicle defects listed in the Government’s data are: defective lights or indicators, defective steering or suspension, defective or missing mirrors, overloaded or poorly loaded vehicle or trailer and – the second most common fault – Illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres.
Poor rubber contributed to a total of 3,449 accidents, says DfT statistics.
And this high rate of tyre faults causing accidents might not come as much of surprise given that more than one in ten (13 per cent) of motorists claim to have driven with tyres below the legal tread depth.
A survey of 2,000 drivers by Halfords found that almost two thirds didn’t know the legal minimum tread depth for tyres.
Some 65 per cent of the panel failed to identify 1.6mm as the minimum tread allowance, and were also unaware that they could receive a fine of £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre if caught by the police.
The poll found that a quarter (27 per cent) of these drivers hadn’t checked their tyre tread at all in the last three months and another 42 per cent didn’t know how to check tyre pressure.
Experts warned drivers not to rely on an MOT to guarantee the safety of their vehicle all year round, suggesting they have brakes checked between the annual assessment
Recent studies have been highlighting the range of relatively basic vehicle maintenance skills motorists say they struggle with.
For instance, a separate survey of 2,011 motorists by breakdown provider Green Flag found that half (51 per cent) of motorists can’t change a wheel and over a quarter (28 per cent) don’t know how to check the engine’s oil level.
Worryingly, over half (51 per cent) of UK drivers quizzed by the recover firm said they wait more than two months to have their car’s faults fixed, while one in seven (14 per cent) saying they will only get issues repaired when it’s urgent.
Safety groups are using Car Care Week – which runs from the 30 September to 6 October – to raise awareness of drivers checking their vehicles for obvious issues.